NEW DELHI: With the Gujarat Assembly polls a couple of months away, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has increased its space in the state that may be headed for a triangular contest. Some political observers believe that people are responding to the AAP due to the party’s promises of providing relief to the middle class. “Whether it will fructify or play an important role in the electoral battle is to be seen,” a political analyst said.
To maximise its electoral dividends, according to sources, the party is trying to carve out its voter base among minorities, as well as by addressing those people who have felt left out by the BJP government. A meeting was held some days back in Gujarat, where the party’s top brass conveyed to party executives to focus more on the slum areas and on minorities. An AAP leader said, “Party executives were told to let all the ground workers know that they should work hard in the slum areas to woo minorities.”
Muslims, who have traditionally voted for the Congress in the state, are a major chunk of minorities in the state with around 10% of the total population, translating to nearly 7 million voters. Manoj Surathiya, Gujarat AAP unit general secretary, said, “The perception in public nowadays is that people have stopped having faith in Congress. Moreover, all communities and religions are with the Aam Aadmi Party. Earlier, minorities could have been with the Congress, but now, we can see that the Congress is shrinking every day; thus the minorities don’t have faith in the Congress now, they know the only option left for them is AAP.”
Manish Doshi, Gujarat Congress spokesperson, however, said, “Congress has focussed on all people and all minorities and we care about all people in the state. Our focus is also on how to ensure that all people in the state get justice. AAP will have no impact on Congress voters.”
Sources privy to the developments said that though AAP’s internal assessment shows an increase in people’s support for the party, yet it is to be seen whether that is enough to tilt electoral results in AAP’s favour. “The party is expecting fruitful results on more than 70 seats out of which it could pull off easy victory on more than 40 seats, if the party continues to work with the same temperament,” an AAP leader said.
A party insider also admitted that the frequent visits of Arvind Kejriwal have played an important role in the party’s increasing existence as well as its “widespread acceptance in the state” and this has helped the party send a strong message across, thus boosting the narrative of a BJP vs AAP battle.
BJP MLA in Gujarat, Chatrasingh Panju, told The Sunday Guardian, “When the election results come, you will see that the BJP will be victorious, there will always be parties who will play a role of opposition, but it will not impact the BJP, they may just win around 2 seats. Anti-incumbency votes will not damage the BJP, there may be reduction in Congress votes, but will not impact us.”